The World At War

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Isaac Asimov on early computers

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Barret .50 cal

Demonstration of Barret .50 cal sniper rifle.
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Five Things that Are Worse than Global Warming

On Saturday, over a hundred artists and some 2 billion people will participate in the Live Earth concerts to highlight global warming. It will be the largest mass musical event in history: a day-long multimedia extravaganza at eight primary venues on all seven continents.
And while public attention is focused on climate change, things elsewhere will continue much as always. During the 24 hours of Live Earth, 214,000 acres of tropical forest will disappear forever. Two billion gallons of human sewage will be dumped into the world's oceans. 10,800 children will die from drought or the lack of clean drinking water. And we'll be 85 million barrels closer to the end of the Petroleum Age.
Granted, climate change is a significant issue. We needn't agree on its causes to realize its potential impact: a shifting climate means the shifting availability of things like fresh water and viable farmland. While natural resources follow wind and tide, human populations do not. The resulting stresses are likely to produce regional instabilities at a very fragile moment in history.
But the effects of global warming, whatever they are, will be measured on a scale of decades or centuries. In the meantime, beyond the unblinking stare of MTV -- far from the well-heeled audiences of London, Hamburg, and Giants Stadium -- away from the celebrity and speechmaking, humanity's collective lack of environmental wisdom is already grinding nature underfoot. While some propose spending billions of dollars to combat the uncertain foe of climate change, more pressing matters already threaten to upend our everyday lives.

Lighter Footstep - Five Things that Are Worse than Global Warming

The Future of Flight

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'Shift Happens' the web is and will change the planet

An official update to the original "Shift Happens" video from Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod, this June 2007 update includes new and updated statistics, thought-provoking questions and a fresh design.

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Prehistoric fish found alive

A coelacanth, an ancient fish once thought to have become extinct when it disappeared from fossil records 80 million years ago, is shown in Nairobi, Kenya, in this Novemeber 21, 2001 file photo. Fishermen in Zanzibar have caught a coelacanth, an official said on Sunday. (George Mulala/Reuters)

Twins from different races...

A year ago, the non-identical twins Marcia (left) and Millie Biggs in UK were born with a million-to-one chance by Caesarean section at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield after their mother Amanda conceived them through IVF treatment.
One-year old blue-eyed Marcia has inherited mother Amanda's fair complexion and strawberry blonde hair, while Millie is clearly with black hair and dark skin which obviously takes after father, Michael Biggs, who is a Jamaican descent. Both parents come from families with a history of twins.
To somewhat coincidently, the mother of Australia's black and white twins Alicia And Jasmin Singer is also of Jamaican origin.

MIT World: Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications

Video length is 1:26:13.
Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications
from MIT World Recent Updates
Stephen H. Schneider
As one of the lead researchers in the ongoing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), which informs the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,
Stephen Schneider has labored mightily to map out the appropriate purview for scientists in climate change discussions. He reminds policy makers that scientists can’t decree what constitutes a perilous increase in global temperatures. “It’s not a scientist’s judgment to decide what’s dangerous.” He must lay out precise terminology for these discussions, and provide the models on which the various (mostly dismal) forecasts are based.
At the heart of the global discussion lie the contentious issues of what kind of rise in temperature constitutes “dangerous anthropogenic interference,” (DAI, in U.N. shorthand) and over what kind of time frame. Schneider notes that there is no threshold below which we’re OK, and above which we’re not. “We’ve already passed the threshold when some species are driven to extinction.” Also, the “damages that will occur are highly differential: melting Arctic sea ice will probably save the fishing industry $50 million a year in having shorter routes, but it will wreck the culture of the Inuits, established over 5,000 years, or destroy the polar bear ecosystem. How do you weigh those in comparable monetary metrics?”
In successive passes over the last decade or so, Schneider and other scientists have attempted to provide increasingly sophisticated answers to these questions, not only running thousands of climate models but looking at the risk of drastic climate change as a function of alternative policy choices. If the world doubles the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over pre-industrial levels, say to 550 parts per million, what will temperatures be by 2100, and how will that impact different regions, economies, societies? The latest IPPC assessment shows that we can expect a temperature increase of anywhere from 1.1-6.4 degrees C. Decision makers, who are essentially risk managers, have difficulty accepting such an uncertain forecast, says Schneider, but the best that can be accomplished is to provide the likelihoods of different temperature ranges in varying scenarios.
One of the most useful devices Schneider has found for illustrating this way of thinking is MIT’s Greenhouse Gamble roulette wheel, which depicts possible temperature increases should the world decide to spend the trillions of dollars necessary to stabilize carbon emissions at 550 ppm -- or pursue business as usual. With a rational global policy in place, the most likely outcome is an increase of no more than 1.5 degrees C. With no policy, expect a 2- 2.5 degree increase. “Which world would you rather be on?” asks Schneider. -- [April 25, 2007 4:15 PM]
MIT World » : Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications

MIT World: Diverse Applications of Nuclear Technology

Video length is 2:02:09.
This session goes a long way toward demonstrating the “happy face of the atom,” as moderator David Kaiser puts it, replacing the mushroom cloud image with a multidimensional picture of the uses of nuclear technology.
As a plasma physicist, Ian Hutchinson works on controlled fusion -- a very hot area of nuclear technology in more ways than one. By fusing together isotopes of hydrogen, you can achieve the energy source of stars, says Hutchinson. This promises infinite reserves of clean energy. These reactions are only possible at super high temperatures, and “to bring these down to a human scale,” the gases created must be contained by powerful magnets in machines called tokamaks. MIT and other labs have produced fusion energy and now a major international project to create a large fusion reactor is under way. The big challenge, says Hutchinson, is understanding the “great stirrings and eddies inside the plasma” that cause gas leaks and disruption to the fusion process.
We are now entering a time when “angst seems to be subsiding and we are able to discuss the benefits of nuclear technology in the security arena,” says Dwight Williams. He describes some major upgrades to the detection devices commonly used to prevent people from getting “bad stuff on an airplane or through a port.” Williams explains active system devices, which can induce a radioactive signature in something that was not originally radioactive, and thus signal an item’s “elemental content.” A machine using thermal neutron activation analysis can penetrate all kinds of shielding, to produce gamma rays and a 3D image of the contents of a bag. Since explosives share some of the features of jam, marzipan and chocolate, says Williams, advanced nuclear techniques will help inspectors distinguish between the benign and dangerous.
Medical applications of nuclear technology deploy different types of radiation to kill tumor cells and spare healthy tissue. But, says Jeffrey Coderre, shielding healthy cells to prevent radiation’s side effects turns out to be a tricky proposition. Coderre investigated the nature of radiation damage and determined it was a function of damage to stem cells (rather than damage to blood vessels). He describes how the radioisotopes used in medical radiation, virtually all of which come from Canadian reactors, can be used in a variety of ways: to view areas of rapid bone growth, or tumor sites in bone; to sterilize syringes and drapes used in hospitals; and in a radiation helmet called the gamma knife to get focused radiation into difficult brain tumors.
Alan Jasanoff provides a one-stop tour of medical imaging techniques, differentiating between those scans that use high energy radiation (such as computed tomography and positron emission tomography); and low wavelength radiation, based on radio waves, such as nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. PET scans detect molecular tracers that have been consumed in a sugary drink to find areas where cells are rapidly dividing, for example. New applications for this well established imaging method include locating plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease. MRI, unlike CT or PET scans, has minimal destructive impact on tissues, and allows 3D mapping of blood vessels, and more recently, the tracing of microscopic fibers in the brain. Jasanoff’s lab uses calcium-sensitive contrast agents to detect events in the brain.

MIT World » : Diverse Applications of Nuclear Technology

MIT World: Emerging Technologies: The Innovators’ View

Video length is 1:28:14.
Innovators are like jazz musicians... or like permanent teenagers. These and other analogies flowed, as top-flight tech inventors tried to put their fingers on the precise nature of innovation and how it can best be coaxed into existence.
Yair Goldfinger draws on his Israeli background to back up his notion that everyone has a creative bent, which awaits some catalyst to emerge. The Israeli Army, he says, is very small, “and they teach you from day one how to improvise.” If the rope is too short, you find the alternative. The culture of this small country, “surrounded by enemies” and short of investment money, forces collaboration among groups from different disciplines, with one innovation leading to the next. “Innovation is tied to time and place,” he says.
Like pornography, innovation is hard to define, says Philip Sharp, but when we see it, we recognize it. Not only is it part of the fabric of our culture, so much so that we in the West “take it for granted like air in the room,” but innovation is “the defining mode of the future.” Fifteen years from now, all we perceive as ordinary today “will be completely different.” And opportunities are greater now than at any other time in human history, Sharp believes. MIT, where “innovation is part of the drinking water,” can teach students how to master certain problems and “increase the probability enormously that they will be involved in innovation.” Sharp, reflecting on the complex, seven-plus year process involved in bringing pharmaceuticals to market, sees innovation as the product of an individual mind, but harnessed within teams.
When Jay Walker looks in the mirror, he sees a “serial innovator.” While serendipity sometimes operates, the “vast majority of innovation occurs where opportunity meets preparation….The harder innovators work, the luckier they get.” Innovation is “the unexpected effective solution to a problem,” not “an artistic dimension or personality trait.” Walker embraces innovation in politics and the arts, where profitability may be besides the point. But he sees among all innovators unhappiness with the status quo. Innovators especially require mentoring. “If you’re young, you need someone who gives you comfort that rule-breaking won’t take you to a dead end.” The biggest challenge for inventors involves storytelling -- communicating to others why their product solves a problem better. Good innovations require effective “propagation mechanisms.”
One recipe for innovation, says Iqbal Quadir, involves blending two different things that come together to create a third thing. Qadir “didn’t invent cellphones, and someone else invented microcredit,” yet he brought these elements together ingeniously in Bangladesh to create low-cost phone access for a hundred million people. So for him, “innovation is the difference that makes a difference.” Don’t mistake his work for social entrepreneurism, though: “If you solve a problem…society is happy to pay you for the difference that you’ve made.” In many countries, entrenched powers resent bold thinking, and try to quash it. “You see a bird pecking grains. Put a glass in between and after a while, the bird stops pecking. Human beings in difficult countries give up.” Such countries “need disruption, to get things moving again.” Newcomers bring fresh blood, and “once an innovation succeeds, they may have more resources to take bigger risks and try something more crazy.”

MIT World » : Emerging Technologies: The Innovators’ View

MIT World: Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons

Video length is 1:24:28.
Joseph Cirincione delivers an energetic and at times impassioned primer on the standoff with Iran on its nuclear program, drawn in part from his latest book, The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (Columbia University Press, Spring 2007).
He offers a succinct ‘equation’ to describe what drives nations to acquire nuclear weapons: 3P+T+E, where power (security), prestige, politics (domestic), technology and economics combine in various ways to tip a nation toward joining the nuclear club. If one or more of these factors can be blunted somehow – for instance, through economic or political incentives, or preventing the free flow of fissile material and technology – then nuclear-inclined nations may be persuaded to change course.
The current tense situation with Iran throws such drivers into vivid relief. Cirincione first notes that Iran’s nuclear weapons development began under the U.S.-installed Shah, who was to be our “gendarme in the Gulf.” His program had the backing of many of today’s key U.S. political figures, including Vice President Cheney. After the 1979 revolution, Iranian leaders continued the program, acquiring technology from Pakistan, to counter Iraq, which had its own weapons program, and which invaded Iran in the early 80s. One million Iranians died in this war, and no one came to their aid, says Cirincione. “Iranians remember they were alone. You have to understand history to understand why Iran may want nuclear weapons now.”
But in a twist, Cirincione hypothesizes that Iran did not get far with its nuclear development and that it doesn’t currently have a secret weapons program. While Iran maintains it has the right to acquire nuclear technology, it won’t admit to its past weapons work. That would “blow their whole story line, that it’s against Islam to have nuclear weapons.” So they stall international inspections and hope “by obfuscation and delay they can drag out the issue, and the world will acquiesce to their plans.”
With Iran insisting on moving ahead with uranium enrichment, what are the options? Cirincione takes aim at the current U.S. default policy, “to muddle through.” He also scoffs at the idea of regime change in Iran, since Iraq teaches that “democratic transformation takes a long time.” He saves his most poisonous barbs for U.S. neoconservatives, who are hatching military plans to sweep through Iran. “This is nuts,” says Cirincione, a strategy driven by people with “messianic impulses” who perceive “one great Islamo-fascist threat.” Iran could respond to attack by shutting down oil traffic, or attacking U.S. servicemen in Iraq; rage in the Islamic world “would put at risk American economic, political and cultural institutions worldwide.” Plus, Iranians “would go pedal to the metal to get a bomb as quickly as they could.”
The alternative, says Cirincione, is to contain and engage: expand harsh sanctions against Iran and create fractures among Iranian political factions. We “back them into a corner, then give them a way out,” says Cirincione. “Negotiations aren’t appeasement, they’re statecraft. We should be having direct discussions with Iran.”

MIT World » : Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons

MIT World: Emerging Technologies and Trends in Online Entertainment and Business

Video length is 0:51:21.
Emerging Technologies and Trends in Online Entertainment and Business
Jonathan F. Miller, David Faber
With the arrival of digital technology, we’ve become a nation “of multitaskers, snackers and samplers,” says Jonathan Miller . A longtime player in the media industry, Miller perceives two distinct trends emerging: the fragmentation of consumption, due to “an incredible explosion of choice,” and the consolidation of money and power in the business.
These intertwined phenomena will continue to play out, Miller believes, “to the consumers’ benefit,” because to a large degree, the consumer is in control. Content is available across innumerable platforms, from cell phones to laptops to handheld games, and with broadband and wireless penetration, users can get their fix of news, entertainment and data virtually anywhere, anytime. More to the point, consumers have at their command cheap and easy ways to produce and distribute their own content, whether original or freely exploited from other authors. There’s been a grassroots explosion of blogs, websites, mashups, instant messaging, and YouTubing. Miller notes that the internet served up five billion screens of video in 2002, and in the past year, five times as many.
Confronted by literally millions of rich media producers and hundreds of millions of consumers, media giants have been forced to shift gears. It’s an on-demand world now, says Miller, where marketing money is ill spent, since the product itself drives adoption. If consumers like it “they choose to pass it on to their friends…you can’t spend your way there.” The music industry, which tried to buck the trend, finally accepted the dominance of internet sharing and commerce. Now the rest of traditional media companies are rushing to shift their business models. For example, they’re “going to make great product” for TV, “upgrading the quality of narrative and the experience of viewing it” with movie stars and high definition. They’re finding “additional digital niches” to push their high and low-level products on the web and beyond, says Miller. The giant companies remain so, because of a need to “aggregate” the blogs, videos and podcasts. Scale still matters, so the big guys finance and swallow up the little guys, even as consumption continues to spread out. “At the same time of democratization of consumption we have a concentration of industry taking place,” concludes Miller. “This is the golden age of entertainment.” MIT World » : Emerging Technologies and Trends in Online Entertainment and Business

MIT World: Climate and Energy: Uncertainties in Forecasts and the Problems of Scale

Video length is 1:01:47.
When Ron Prinn spins one “Wheel of Fortune,” he arrives at a one in four chance of the Earth warming up at least 3 degrees centigrade, and the beginning of an irreversible melting of polar ice sheets. When he spins the other wheel, the odds of this level of dangerous warming fall to one in 40. The first wheel, Prinn suggests, represents the risks involved in doing nothing about climate change. The second wheel is attainable only by enacting a climate policy that stabilizes carbon dioxide levels in the near future.
Prinn arrives at this casino scenario by way of an enormously complex climate model, the Integrated Global System Model (IGSM), which takes into account man made and natural activities forcing climate change, to generate a “probability range of forecasts.” Data come from measuring variables in the atmosphere, ocean, and land ecosystems, as well as from human emissions. GDP, energy use, policy costs, agricultural and health impacts get factored in as well.
Research using 400-thousand-year-old ice samples shows that while temperatures and greenhouse gases have fluctuated, the temperatures today are the highest in the last 1200 years. 1998 and 2005 were the warmest years ever recorded. Given the current rise in carbon dioxide levels, polar regions are warming up at much faster rates than other parts of the world, which will exacerbate warming. As ocean ice melts, there’s less sunlight reflected back and more heat trapped at the poles; tundra thawing will release more gases as well. There are feedbacks in the system: small changes in gases such as methane can trigger very rapid changes in temperature.
Prinn admits to big uncertainties in the IGSM: clouds, which play a large role, are difficult to model. There are also uncertainties about emissions, and ocean-mixing, the churning of cooler and warmer waters, which can bring carbon buried on the ocean floor to the surface. Prinn’s caveat is “never seriously believe any single forecast of the climate going into the future.” However, by running the IGSM hundreds of thousands of times to estimate the probability of various amounts of climate change, Prinn and colleagues are, “in the Monte Carlo sense, building up a set of forecasts on which we can put a measure of the odds of being correct or incorrect.”
If we want better odds, we’ll need to prevent any major increase in carbon dioxide emissions from current levels (and no more than twice preindustrial levels). This is a tall order, given the growth of developing countries and the anemic response by the U.S. and other countries to the gathering crisis. Prinn adds to this dismal picture, noting that new energy solutions must permit scaling up on a global basis. “To get three terawatts out of windmills, you’d need 21 million of the current-style windmills.” Solutions that look good on a small scale “may be going in the wrong direction on a large scale.”

Ronald Prinn's research interests incorporate the chemistry, dynamics, and physics of the atmospheres of the Earth and other planets, and the chemical evolution of atmospheres. He is currently involved in a wide range of projects in atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemistry, planetary science, climate science, and integrated assessment of science and policy regarding climate change.

MIT World » : Climate and Energy: Uncertainties in Forecasts and the Problems of Scale

MIT World: Creativity: The Mind, Machines, and Mathematics

Video length is 0:59:10.
Raymond Kurzweil: Chairman and CEO, Kurzweil Technologies, Inc.
David Gelernter: Professor of Computer Science, Yale University
Gelernter's Yale website
Rodney A. Brooks: Director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)
Two of the sharpest minds in the computing arena spar gamely, but neither scores a knockdown in one of the oldest debates around: whether machines may someday achieve consciousness. (NB: Viewers may wish to brush up on the work of computer pioneer Alan Turing and philosopher John Searle in preparation for this video.)
Ray Kurzweil confidently states that artificial intelligence will, in the not distant future, “master human intelligence.” He cites the “exponential power of growth in technology” that will enable both a minute, detailed understanding of the human brain, and the capacity for building a machine that can at least simulate original thought. The “frontier” such a machine must cross is emotional intelligence—“being funny, expressing loving sentiment…” And when this occurs, says Kurzweil, it’s not entirely clear that the entity will have achieved consciousness, since we have no “consciousness detector” to determine if it is capable of subjective experiences.
Acknowledging that his position will prove unpopular, David Gelernter launches his attack: “We won’t even be able to build super-intelligent zombies unless we approach the problem right.” This means admitting that a continuum of cognitive styles exists among humans. As for building a conscious machine, he sees no possibility of one emerging from even the most sophisticated software. “Consciousness means the presence of mental states strictly private with no visible functions or consequences. A conscious entity can call on a thought or memory merely to feel happy, be inspired, soothed, feel anger…” Software programs, by definition, can be separated out, peeled away and run in a logically identical way on any computing platform. How could such a program spontaneously give rise to “a new node of consciousness?”
Kurzweil concedes the difficulty of defining consciousness, but does not want to wish away the concept, since it serves as the basis for our moral and ethical systems. He maintains his argument that reverse engineering of the human brain will enable machines that can act with a level of complexity, from which somehow consciousness will emerge.
Gelernter replies that believing this “seems a completely arbitrary claim. Anything might be true, but I don’t see what makes the claim plausible.” Ultimately, he says, Kurzweil must explain objectively and scientifically what consciousness is -- “how it’s created and got there.” Kurzweil stakes his claim on our future capacity to model digitally the actions of billions of neurons and neurotransmitters, which in humans somehow give rise to consciousness. Gelernter believes such a machine might simulate mental states, but not actually pass muster as a conscious entity. Ultimately, he questions the desirability of building such computers: “We might reach the state some day when we prefer the company of a robot from Walmart to our next-door neighbor or roommates.”

MIT World » : Creativity: The Mind, Machines, and Mathematics: Public Debate

MIT World: iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon

Video length is 00:41:30.

Steve Wozniak tells the tale of Apple's early years with such illuminating details and brio that engineers (and ordinary mortals) will feel they’d actually been on the scene. While lots of books recount this story, Wozniak says many of them “got it wrong.” So he decided to set down his own version, by book and lecture.
A ham radio licensee in 6th grade, Wozniak envisioned becoming an engineer, building "radios, TVs or guidance systems." It was a time when one “couldn’t hope to see a computer, and never own one because it cost as much as a house.”
Wozniak put himself through U.C. Berkeley by working in electronics firms, including Hewlett Packard. All the while he was designing primitive computers. Then came the fateful day when he met Steve Jobs, with whom he had an immediate affinity. "A lot of my life is driven by how you should live, your goals and values. A lot came from the pop music of the day, and we had similar tastes, like Bob Dylan." Both Wozniak and Jobs were fascinated by the early video games, like Pong, which had simple displays and controls. Wozniak stumbled on to the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, and was inspired by the idea of typing and seeing words appear on a video screen. ‘I said, Wow, I can design my own computer and build it almost for free.”
Wozniak devised a microprocessor with some memory and created the first "local computer." Jobs set out to sell the invention. The Apple I was born, and in record time, they had an order for 100 computers, at $666.66 each. The famous garage was a staging area where Wozniak tested the machines for defects. He notes about this time, “You can do things amazingly fast when you don’t have any lawyers.”
In 1977, Wozniak’s new and improved Apple II added basic programming language, as well as color and graphics, sound and paddles. This was the machine that convinced the world that computers didn’t just belong in big companies, but in everyone’s homes. “It was the biggest eureka moment of my life,” Wozniak says, when he realized that with software on a computer “you could do in half an hour what would take you a lifetime in hardware.” Whether with games, spreadsheet calculations or recipes, his computer had seized the imagination of an entire nation.

MIT World » : iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

MIT World » : The Ceaseless Society: What Happens to Our Mind, Body, and Spirit When we Just Never Stop?

Video length is 1:52:58.

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Founding Director, Stress Reduction Clinic, University of Massachusetts Medical Center
Kabat-Zinn's UMass profile
Tenzin LS Priyadarshi: Buddhist Chaplain and Visiting Scholar, MIT
The Ven Priyadarshi's MIT site

Throw aside that coarse caricature of a humming, pretzel-legged creature in flowing robes, suggests Jon Kabat-Zinn. Embrace instead the real meaning of meditation: “an effortless mindfulness” that involves paying purposeful attention to the present moment, in a nonjudgmental way. While many religious traditions incorporate this kind of practiced awareness, Kabat-Zinn makes the case for enriching all of our lives through meditation.
The problem with most of us, he says, is that “we can get entrained into the rhythms of society as if we’re guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment run wild. No one’s minding the store.” The demands of daily life and an increasingly digital age leave us living for the future, and “if the present moment is only a clever way to get someplace else, then we’re never where we actually are.” So we’re perpetually dissatisfied.
This leaves us open to stress, which exacerbates many kinds of illness. Kabat-Zinn describes research showing that the parents of chronically ill children, under chronic stress, experience accelerated shortening of telomeres (units on the ends of chromosomes), a process associated with aging. But parents with healthy kids who also report stress in their lives have a similarly high rate of telomere shortening. While you can’t change the actual stress in many cases, says Kabat-Zinn, you can relate to it differently. “How am I going to be in relation to the actuality of moments as they unfold – the good ones, bad ones and ugly ones?” When the brain gets going, it can be very creative, says Kabat-Zinn, and the body suffers.
Twenty five years of scientific study have begun to link the practice of mindfulness to medical benefits. Psoriasis patients practicing meditation while receiving UV light treatments healed at a rate four times faster than those just receiving light. If human beings fulfill their potential to become “wise and compassionate in relationship to pain and fear,” they may achieve “a degree of understanding in the human condition and life on this planet,” says Kabat-Zinn. “I consider that to be not only a human birthright but a human inheritance. If we squander it, we have nobody else to blame,” he concludes.
Tenzin LS Priyadarshi addresses the need to cultivate a mind that can truly live in the present, no longer regretting the past or worrying about the future.

MIT World » : The Ceaseless Society: What Happens to Our Mind, Body, and Spirit When we Just Never Stop?

MIT World » : From Space to Energy: Changing the World. For Good.

Video length is 55:10.
What does it take to achieve the impossible? The lure of a lucrative payoff or of worldwide fame, and a talented team who simply say, “Enough is enough, we’re going to change things.” That’s the perspective of Diamandis and the X Prize Foundation, whose original $10-million award went to Bert Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, which on October 4, 2004, became the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 100 km twice in as many weeks. The X Prize Foundation’s goal is to make space flight a near-commonplace human activity. NASA’s current costs to launch each shuttle run $1 billion. Diamandis imagines it should cost “100 bucks per person in the future on a space elevator, or through some breakthroughs in physics.” Commercial ventures will help drive this revolution -- whether they are rides on the Soyuz craft, or the acquisition of vast mineral resources in space. A small asteroid, Diamandis notes, is worth “20 trillion dollars in the platinum group metal marketplace”.
While the X Prize Foundation believes “human destiny is in space,” it also aims to achieve comparable breakthroughs on earth, deploying cash rewards and generating an international buzz around conquering such global problems as the environment and energy. You put up a prize to get “unconstrained thinking,” says Diamandis, and you create inspiration and hope, as people “risk everything for something they believe in.”

Peter H. Diamandis also serves as the Chairman of Zero Gravity Corporation, a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight. He was a co-founder of Space Adventures.
In 1987, Diamandis co-Founded the International Space University (ISU) where he served as the University's first Program Director and Trustee. Prior to ISU, Diamandis served as Chairman of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) an organization he founded at MIT in 1980.
MIT World » : From Space to Energy: Changing the World. For Good.

MIT World: Human Genetics: Our Past and Our Future

Video length is 1:04:56.

Will genomics vanquish our most common diseases, or create a society based on vile eugenics – or both? David Altshuler outlines these possibilities in his informal talk and conversation at the MIT Museum.
Altshuler is a self-described optimist, and sees promise in current genetic research that attempts to pinpoint why some people develop diseases like adult-onset diabetes or schizophrenia. If we can identify the precise mechanisms inside cells that go haywire in individuals with an inherited predisposition to a certain disease, then it may be possible to design drugs much more accurately. “We’re searching for a culprit who committed a crime, where the culprit is a mutation in a DNA sequence that made somebody get sick …. And scientists are the detectives -- CGI: Crime Gene Investigators,” says Altshuler.
Scientists have a very powerful tool in the human genome sequence, and they are quickly mapping out genes that cause diseases. But the very tools that permit insight into illness may also permit researchers to isolate genes for other human traits. And this has Altshuler musing: “How about hair loss, intelligence, criminality, athletic ability….Should society regulate the use of genetic information in reproductive choices?” What if insurance companies gain access to individuals’ genetic predictors, and use this to determine risk, and rates? “There’s no federal legislation to prevent someone from shaking your hand, scraping off DNA, doing a genetic test and not hiring you or refusing to give you insurance,” Altshuler points out. Ultimately, he says, it will be in the hands of the public to strike a balance between restricting the use of genetic information, and permitting its application to cure disease.

Clinical endocrinologist and human geneticist David Altshuler is one of the world's leading scientists in the study of human genetic variation and its application to disease, using tools and information from the Human Genome Project. He is a lead investigator in The SNP Consortium and the International HapMap Project, public-private partnerships that have created public maps of human genome sequence variation as a foundation for disease research. Among his discoveries is the finding of a common genetic variant that increases the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.
MIT World » : Human Genetics: Our Past and Our Future

MIT World » : The Six Webs, 10 Years On

Video length is 51:35.

It’s a good thing that a decade ago, some engineers at Sun Microsystems became dissatisfied with the limitations of the desktop PC and with kludgy TV remote controls. Their frustrations, according to Bill Joy, led to technology breakthroughs we count on today—and will likely in years to come. Joy and his colleagues grasped early on the impact the Internet would have on both computing and entertainment. Back in the 90s, they decided to play out how technologies imbedded in daily life would evolve under the influence of the internet. They envisioned the “far” web, as defined by the typical TV viewer experience; the “near” web, or desktop computing; the “here” web, or mobile devices with personal information one carried all the time; the “weird” web, characterized by voice recognition systems; the “B2B” web of business computers dealing exclusively with each other; and the “D2D” web, of intelligent buildings and cities. (Sun’s programming language Java was a deliberate attempt at a platform for all six webs.)
Joy sees the six webs as a great organizing principle for understanding how the internet will continue to change. He believes the “here” web will figure most prominently in our lives, with its “nomadic idea that instead of being tethered to an office, we carry around things of most interest to us.” He notes the increasing “cleavage between entertainment authored for the ‘here’ and ‘far’ webs.” The latter is dominated by such corporate interests as game companies intent on copy protection and rights management, while the “more anarchic world” of the internet leads to more interesting content, such as personal publishing, housed best on the “here” web. Says Joy, “Doing things with people you know through a small screen makes enormous sense.”

Bill Joy led Sun's technical strategy from the founding of the company in 1982 until September 2003. While at Sun, he was a key designer of Sun technologies including Solaris, SPARC, chip architectures and pipelines, and Java. In 1995 he installed the first city-wide WiFi network. Joy has more than 40 patents issued or in progress.
Before co-founding Sun, Joy designed and wrote Berkeley UNIX - the first open source operating system with built-in TCP/IP, making it the backbone of the Internet. Fortune magazine dubbed him the "Edison of the Internet."

MIT World » : The Six Webs, 10 Years On

MIT World: The Power of Revolutionary Thinking

Video length is 1:30:05.
Robert Cassanova: Director, NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Penelope Boston: Director of Cave and Karst Studies and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Dava Newman: Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
Bradley Carl Edwards: President and Founder, Carbon Designs

While Dr. Seuss may not have been a direct inspiration, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” seems especially suited to these four “brainy and footsy people” with exceptional reach.
Take Bradley Carl Edwards, who is designing a space elevator 62 thousand miles long, made out of a three-foot wide ribbon of carbon nanotubes, with one end attached to earth and the other sticking out in space. Send up solar panel satellites and you’ve got a constant, inexpensive supply of power for the world.
And there’s Dava Newman, who is working on a spacesuit made out of liquefied polymers and electro active materials. Her “shrink-wrapped” Biosuit system is intended for “extreme explorers” on multi-year missions to the moon and beyond, who need second skins to augment human performance and minimize bone and muscle loss typical in low gravity environments.
Or Penelope Boston, whose investigation of our planet’s harshest caves is leading to models for human habitation in subterranean lava tubes on Mars. Deploy “microbots” to reconnoiter for danger and signs of life in these deep and dangerous places, suggests Boston, then develop life support mechanisms in preparation for human colonies on other worlds.
Are these merely flights of fancy? Robert Cassanova thinks not. His NIAC serves as incubator to these “really good revolutionary ideas,” which he believes stretch the imagination but that will also end up as credible technologies.

MIT World » : The Power of Revolutionary Thinking: What Today's Scientists Can Teach You About Driving Innovation In Your Organization

'Water on Pluto moon'

Pluto, centre, with its moons, from far right, Hydra and Nix. Pluto's other moon, Charon, is seen closest to Pluto
July 19, 2007

As a planet, Pluto was a real dog. Now scientists say there may be something truly fishy about one the little world's three known moons.
Astronomers have announced they have evidence that, despite the bitterly cold conditions on the edge of the solar system, Pluto's moon Charon may have an underground ocean of liquid water, triggering speculation it could harbour marine life.
The water appears to be spewing up through cracks in the surface, producing spectacular geysers that instantly freeze, creating showers of ice. Using Hawaii's giant Gemini Telescope, the astronomers found that the 1200 kilometre-wide moon is covered in patches of water crystals, and ammonia hydrates.
'Water on Pluto moon' - Science - Specials -

Internet Map, Subway Style

Self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint. New Scientist

Self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint
14:06 12 July 2007 news service
Roxanne Khamsi

In a new psychological experiment, Chinese students outperformed their US counterparts when ask to infer another person's perspective. The researchers say the findings help explain how misunderstandings can occur in cross-cultural communication.
In the experiment, psychologists Boaz Keysar and Shali Wu at the University of Chicago, Illinois, US, recruited 40 students. Half of the volunteers were non-Asians who had grown up in the US, and the other half were native Mandarin speakers who had very recently emigrated from various parts of China.

Self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint

Web 2.0 Video explanations

Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us
: ""
Professor Walsh explaining "The machine is us"

What Is Web 2.0? Short documentary

Famous Last Words

Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.
Francisco ("Pancho") Villa

I'll be in Hell before you start breakfast!
"Black Jack" Ketchum, notorious train robber

Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.
Voltaire (attributed), when asked by a priest to renounce Satan

Get these fucking nuns away from me.
Norman Douglas

Don't's not loaded...
Terry Kath, rock musician in the band Chicago Transit Authority as he put the gun he was cleaning to his head and pulled the trigger.

Is someone hurt?
Robert F. Kennedy, to his wife directly after he was shot and seconds before he fell into a coma.

Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!
Groucho Marx

Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!
Karl Marx, asked by his housekeeper what his last words were

I have a terrific headache.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage

I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.
Richard Feynman

Drink to me!
Pablo Picasso

I have not told half of what I saw.
Marco Polo, Venetian traveller and writer

Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking towards me, without hurrying.
Jean Cocteau

Dammit... Don't you dare ask God to help me.
Joan Crawford. This comment was directed towards her housekeeper who began to pray aloud.

Lord help my poor soul
Edgar Allan Poe

Thank God. I'm tired of being the funniest person in the room.
Del Close, improvisor, teacher and comedian, died 1999

I have tried so hard to do right.
Grover Cleveland, US President, died 1908

I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, Love, Empathy. Kurt Cobain.
Kurt Cobain (in his suicide note), Lead singer for American grunge band Nirvana, referencing a song by Neil Young.

In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first -- attempted suicide.
30-year-old anchorwoman Christine Chubbuck, who, on July 15, 1974, during technical difficulties during a broadcast, said these words on-air before producing a revolver and shooting herself in the head. She was pronounced dead in hospital fourteen hours later.

It's very beautiful over there.
Thomas Edison

Now why did I do that?
General William Erskine, after he jumped from a window in Lisbon, Portugal in 1813.

Don't worry, relax!
Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister, to his security staff minutes before being killed by a suicide bomber attack.

No! I didn't come here to make a speech. I came here to die.
Crawford Goldsby, aka Cherokee Bill, when asked if he had anything to say before he was hanged.

I really need a therapist'
Christopher Grace, an actor who killed himself during a matinee performance of Greece

I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man.
Che Guevara

I'm tired of fighting.
Harry Houdini

I see black light.
Victor Hugo

LSD, 100 kilograms I.M.
Aldous Huxley To his wife. She obliged and he was injected twice before his death.

Let me go to the Father's house
Pope John Paul II

I'm bored with it all.
Winston Churchill, before slipping into a coma and dying nine days later.

I know not what tomorrow will bring.
Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet

Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.
Mother Teresa

Don't disturb my circles!

I hope the exit is joyful and hope never to return.
Frida Kahlo

Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool - good luck. (suicide note)
George Sanders, Actor

They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
General John Sedgwick, Union Commander in the U.S. Civil War, who was hit by sniper fire a few minutes after saying it

Dying is easy, comedy is hard.
George Bernard Shaw

I'm losing.
Frank Sinatra

Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt?

My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.
Oscar Wilde
2Spare - Famous Last Words

Stupid Conspiracy Theories

Top 10 Wackiest Conspiracy Theories

Dinosauroid-like Alien Reptiles are dominating the World
Christine Fitzgerald, a confidante of Diana, Princess of Wales, claims that Diana told her that the Royal Family were Reptilian aliens, and that they could shapeshift.
David Icke's --BBC reporter-- claims that humanity is actually under the control of dinosauroid-like alien reptiles who must consume human blood to maintain their human appearance.
"Evidence" goes from Sumerian tablets describing the "Anunnaki" (which he translates as "those who from heaven to earth came"), to the serpent in the Biblical Garden of Eden, to child abuse, fluoridation, and the genealogical connections between the Bush family and the House of Windsor.
Icke theorizes that the reptilians came here from the constellation Draco. Like most conspiracy theories, falsification of Icke's hypotheses is nearly impossible, but Icke continues to sell books and give speaking engagements based on concepts ranging from the New Age to his political opinions.

Apollo 11 Moon Landings were faked by NASA
Proponents of the Apollo moon landing hoax accusations allege that the Apollo Moon Landings never took place, and were faked by NASA with possible CIA support. Enthusiasts of this theory claim that:
The astronauts could not have survived the trip because of exposure to radiation
The photos were altered: the Crosshairs on some photos appear to be behind objects, rather than in front of them where they should be
The quality of the photographs is implausibly high.
There are no stars in any of the photos, and astronauts never report seeing any stars from the capsule windows.
Identical backgrounds in photos that are listed as taken miles apart.
The moon's surface during the daytime is so hot that camera film would have melted.
No blast crater appeared from the landing
The launch rocket produced no visible flame.
The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts flapped despite there being no wind on the Moon.

September 11 was orchestrated by the U. S. government
A number of urban myths, alternative hypotheses and conspiracy theories have been formulated to explain the events of September 11th:
The U.S., Israel or Iraq government orchestrated the attacks themselves.
The Twin Towers fell straight down, at close to free-fall speed. This is a similar characteristic of a controlled demolition. The dust cloud and its make up are considered un-characteristic of a gravity-driven collapse.
It is often pointed out that no steel building before or since the 9-11 attack has collapsed as the result of fire.
The rubble of the Twin Towers smoldered for weeks after the collapse. This claim is meant to point out that steel could only have smoldered as a result of pre-placed explosives.
Some consider photographic evidence of the plane lying on the grounds of the Pentagon to be ambiguous and unconvincing, citing a visual lack of burnt metal, human remains, passenger's luggage or seats.
The Pentagon was struck in a newly renovated, reinforced section. Some speculate this location, the west side of the complex, to be indicative of government involvement, noting it as an attempt to reduce casualties.
Flight 77 was able to fly in the direction of the DC and Pentagon area for approximately 40 minutes without interception. This is thought to be unusual given the Pentagon's close proximity to Andrews Air Force Base.
There are claims that anti-missile batteries at the Pentagon should have intercepted Flight 77.
The FBI confiscated a video, which may have captured the impact, from a nearby gas station attended by Jose Velasquez. This video has not yet been released.

Barcodes are really intended to Control people
Some conspiracy theorists have proposed that barcodes are really intended to serve as means of control by a putative world government, or that they are Satanic in intent.
Mary Stewart Relfe claims in "The New Money System 666" that barcodes secretly encode the number 666 - the Biblical "Number of the Beast".
This theory has been adopted by other fringe figures such as the "oracle" Sollog, who refuses to label any of his books with barcodes on the grounds that "any type of computer numbering systems MANDATED by any government or business is part of the PROPHECY of the BEAST controlling you."

Charlemagne never existed, is a fictional character
Phantom time hypothesis is a theory developed by Heribert Illig which suggests that the Early Middle Ages (614–911 CE) never occurred, meaning that all artifacts attributed to this time period were from other times, and all historical figures were outright fabrications.
One consequence of Illig's hypothesis is that Charlemagne never existed but is a fictional character. The vast majority of historians believe this theory to be complete fiction, as all cited evidence can be considered circumstantial.

The Truth is out there, on Area 51
The secretive nature of Area 51 and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a centerpiece of modern UFO and conspiracy theory folklore. Some of the unconventional activities claimed to be underway at Area 51 include:
The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology.
Meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials.
The development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control.
Activities related to a supposed shadowy world government.

Microsoft sends messages on Wingdings Font
The Wingdings Font included with Windows has a history of controversy. In 1992, only days after the release of Windows 3.1, it was discovered that the character sequence "NYC" in Wingdings was rendered as Skull and crossbones symbol, Star of David, and thumbs up gesture. This could be interpreted as a message of approval of killing Jews, especially those from New York City.
Microsoft strongly denied this was intentional, and insisted that the final arrangement of the glyphs in the font was largely random. Various other combinations of Wingings characters are alleged to have special significance by conspiracy theorists, but these results are likely purely coincidental.

U.S. military caused the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
Popular Arab news services claim the U.S. and Indian militaries deliberately caused the Indian Ocean tsunamis with electromagnetic pulse technology.
Another type of theory bases its claims on oil and gas interests. Others also reason that the technology is at least feasible if not highly probable since research into such technology has been conducted by the military as far back as World War II.

The Nazis had a Moon Base
Esoteric Hitlerists and conspiracy theorists interested in Nazi mysticism and World War II have speculated that the Germans landed on the Moon as early as 1942.
According to other theories it is believed that the Nazis had made contact with 'half a dozen' alien races, including the malevolent Reptilians.

Kentucky Fried Chicken makes black men impotent
It is sometimes claimed that the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise is owned by the Ku Klux Klan, and the chicken is laced with a drug that makes only black men impotent.
Ironically, the KFC franchise is actually owned by an African-American.

Top 10 Wackiest Conspiracy Theories

Wrong Predictions about the Future

Bad Predictions about the Future

«We will bury you.»
Nikita Krushchev, Soviet Premier, predicting Soviet communism will win over U.S. capitalism, 1958.

«Everything that can be invented has been invented.»
Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, 1899.

«I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.»
Charles Darwin, in the foreword to his book, The Origin of Species, 1869.

«Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.»
Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, 1929.

«If anything remains more or less unchanged, it will be the role of women.»
David Riesman, conservative American social scientist, 1967.

«It will be gone by June.»
Variety, passing judgement on rock 'n roll in 1955.

«Democracy will be dead by 1950.»
John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.

«A short-lived satirical pulp.»
TIME, writing off Mad magazine in 1956.

«And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam»
Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s.

«Four or five frigates will do the business without any military force.» -– British prime minister Lord North, on dealing with the rebellious American colonies, 1774.

«In all likelihood world inflation is over.»
International Monetary Fund Ceo, 1959.

«This antitrust thing will blow over.»
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.

«Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop - because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.»
TIME, 1966, in one sentence writing off e-commerce long before anyone had ever heard of it.

«They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-»
Last words of Gen. John Sedgwick, spoken as he looked out over the parapet at enemy lines during the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864.

«Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far reaching in purpose." -– Herbert Hoover, on Prohibition, 1928.

«It will be years - not in my time - before a woman will become Prime Minister.»
Margaret Thatcher, future Prime Minister, October 26th, 1969.

«Read my lips: NO NEW TAXES.»
George Bush, 1988.

«You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees.» -– Kaiser Wilhelm, to the German troops, August 1914.

«This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.» -– Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, September 30th, 1938.

«That virus is a pussycat.» -– Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988.

«The case is a loser.» -– Johnnie Cochran, on soon-to-be client O.J.'s chances of winning, 1994.

«Reagan doesn't have that presidential look.» -– United Artists Executive, rejecting Reagan as lead in 1964 film The Best Man.

«Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of nature, its own negation.»
Karl Marx.

«Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.»
Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905.

«Man will not fly for 50 years.»
Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, to brother Orville, after a disappointing flying experiment, 1901 (their first successful flight was in 1903).

«I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here... We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.»
Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator, on the Smithsonian Institute, 1901.

«The Americans are good about making fancy cars and refrigerators, but that doesn't mean they are any good at making aircraft. They are bluffing. They are excellent at bluffing.»
Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, 1942.

«With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.»
Business Week, August 2, 1968.

«The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain.»
Martin Luther, German Reformation leader, Table Talk, 1530s(?).

«Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality.»
Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.

«There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.»
General Tommy Franks, March 22nd, 2003.

Light Bulb
«... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.»
British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison's light bulb, 1878.

«Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being unworthy of science and mischievous to its true progress.»
Sir William Siemens, on Edison's light bulb, 1880.

«Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.»
Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880.

«The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.»
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

«That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.»
Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.

«The ordinary "horseless carriage" is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.»
Literary Digest, 1899.

«Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical (sic) and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.» - Simon Newcomb; The Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk 18 months later. Newcomb was not impressed.

«Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.»
Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.

«It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.»
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1895.

«Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.»
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904.

«There will never be a bigger plane built.»
A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

«Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.»
Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

«There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.»
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.

«I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year.»
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

«But what... is it good for?»
IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today's computers.

«Radio has no future.»
Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897.

«The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?»
Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter's call for investment in the radio in 1921.

«Lee DeForest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public ... has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company ...»
a U.S. District Attorney, prosecuting American inventor Lee DeForest for selling stock fraudulently through the mail for his Radio Telephone Company in 1913.

Space Travel
«There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.»
T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).

«Space travel is utter bilge.»
Richard Van Der Riet Woolley, upon assuming the post of Astronomer Royal in 1956.

«Space travel is bunk.»
Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957 (two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth).

«To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.»
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926

«We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.» -– U.S. postmaster general Arthur Summerfield, in 1959.

«... too far-fetched to be considered.»
Editor of Scientific American, in a letter to Robert Goddard about Goddard's idea of a rocket-accelerated airplane bomb, 1940 (German V2 missiles came down on London 3 years later).

«A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere.»
New York Times, 1936.

Atomic and Nuclear Power
«The basic questions of design, material and shielding, in combining a nuclear reactor with a home boiler and cooling unit, no longer are problems... The system would heat and cool a home, provide unlimited household hot water, and melt the snow from sidewalks and driveways. All that could be done for six years on a single charge of fissionable material costing about $300.» –- Robert Ferry, executive of the U.S. Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, 1955.

«Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.» -– Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.

«That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done [research on]... The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.»
Admiral William D. Leahy, U.S. Admiral working in the U.S. Atomic Bomb Project, advising President Truman on atomic weaponry, 1944.

«Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.»
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1939.

«The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.»
Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.

«There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.»
Albert Einstein, 1932.

«There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.»
Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923.

«Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?»
H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers, 1927.

«The cinema is little more than a fad. It's canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage." -– Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916.

This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.»
A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

«The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.»
Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

«It's a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?»
Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell's telephone, 1876.

«A man has been arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant and superstitious people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over metallic wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end. He calls this instrument a telephone. Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires.»
News item in a New York newspaper, 1868.

«Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan.»
Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.

«Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.»
Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

«While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.»
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.

«Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.»
Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830(?).

«What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?»
The Quarterly Review, March edition, 1825.

«Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.»
Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.

Other Technology
«Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.»
Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962.

«[By 1985], machines will be capable of doing any work Man can do.»
Herbert A. Simon, of Carnegie Mellon University - considered to be a founder of the field of artificial intelligence - speaking in 1965.

«The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.»
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

«I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.»
HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901.

«X-rays will prove to be a hoax.»
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

«Very interesting Whittle, my boy, but it will never work.»
Cambridge Aeronautics Professor, when shown Frank Whittle's plan for the jet engine.

«The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous.»
Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916.

«Caterpillar landships are idiotic and useless. Those officers and men are wasting their time and are not pulling their proper weight in the war.»
Fourth Lord of the British Admiralty, 1915.

«What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.»
Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, 1800s.

«The phonograph has no commercial value at all.»
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1880s.

«If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said 'you can't do this'.»
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

«Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.»
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889 (Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power).

87 Bad Predictions about the Future

Stupid self-proclaimed Messiahs

Michael Travesser, the american Messiah who prophesied the September 11 attacks
Michael Travesser was born Wayne Bent in 1941. He is the spiritual leader of the self-proclaimed cult, Strong City, which consists of about 77 people living in Travesser Park, near Travesser Creek in New Mexico as well as other devotees around the world.
Travesser claims that all his teachings have been given to him by God. He teaches that the Son of God is the archangel Michael. Michael first appeared in Jesus of Nazareth, making this his first coming. At his second coming, Michael manifested himself in Travesser. However, Travesser does not teach that he is the only person of this second coming. Instead, the Son of God will appear in all who "love his appearing" and will yield to his appearing in them, making them truly the Sons of God.
The group believes that Travesser prophesied the September 11, 2001 attacks. On September 10, 2001, he posted the following in his blog:
"You have gone far enough, and now I will show you who it is that rules in the heavens. You have built your Babylonish tower, but I will make the top to break off and its foundations to sink into the mire. You will see the stability of the sand you have built on. You will try everything to save it but it will not be saved."
Travesser's writings contain frequent injunctions against the nation and culture of the United States, which he considers to be decadent, if not outright evil.
December 15, 2007, to Travesser's followers, will constitute the end of the process in which they receive their reward from God which also includes the desolation of the earth.

Sun Myung Moon, the korean billionaire and Messiah who reformed Hitler and Stalin
The Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon (1920) is the founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, in Seoul, South Korea. Members call Rev. Moon "Father" (short for "True Father"). At the age of 40 and recently divorced, Moon married the teenage daughter (17 years old) of Mrs. Soon-ae Hong, who at the time did the cooking for the church. Many members were surprised and dismayed, as some believed that they had received revelations that they would be the 'bride of the Messiah'.
Moon arrived in the United States for the first time in 1965 and was considered by many to be manipulating young adults with heartwashing and brainwashing methods. The Unification Church became known for its mass weddings, or, as they called it, 'a blessing of couples'.
Moon reportedly spent a billion dollars from business-related sources to establish and support the influential conservative newspaper The Washington Times, which he called in 2002, 'the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world'
On 2004, Moon announced that he would save everyone on Earth as he had saved the souls of even such murderous dictators as Hitler and Stalin, who he claimed had received 'the Blessing' through him. Moon said the reformed Hitler and Stalin vouched for him from the spirit world, calling him 'none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent'.

Matayoshi Mitsuo, the japanese politician who is God and Jesus Christ
Matayoshi Mitsuo is an eccentric Japanese politician with the conviction that he is the God and Christ.
According to his program, he will do the Last Judgement as the Christ but the way to do this is totally within the current political system and its legitimacy. His first step as the Savior is to be appointed the prime minister of Japan. Then he will reform Japanese society and then the United Nations should offer him the honor of its General Secretary. Then Matayoshi Jesus will reign over the whole world with two legitimate authorities, not only religious but also political.
He has presented himself in many elections but he has not won yet. He has become well-known for his eccentric campaigns where he urges opponents to commit suicide by hara-kiri.

Sabbatai Zevi, the Jewish Messiah who converted To Islam
Leader of the largest messianic movement in Jewish history, Sabbatai Zebi was born in Smyrna (Turkey) in 1626. He "revealed" himself to a band of followers as the "true Messianic redeemer" designated by God to overthrow the governments of the nations and to restore the kingdom of Israel. His was expulsed from the city.
In Salonika, Sabbatai took the Torah as his "bride" with full Jewish ceremony, an act that also got him kicked out of that city too. He spurned his first two wives, divorcing them because, he said, he was waiting for God to "send him a bride". That bride was Sarah, a Polish prostitute who had long maintained that she was "destined" to marry the Messiah.
Back on Smyrna, he declared himself again as the expected Messiah in the synagogue, this time with the blowing of horns, and the multitude greeted him with: "Long live our King, our Messiah!" His popularity grew with incredible rapidity, as not only Jews but Christians also spread his story far and wide. His fame extended to all countries.
Sabbatai's message was anything but orthodox: he urged people to "free themselves of all inhibitions" and revel in life's pleasures. Sexual promiscuity and nudity were suddenly in fashion as virtues.
Yet, Sabbatai's time of glory was brief. He was arrested at sea by Turkish authorities who had heard rumors that he was conspiring to overthrow the sultan. Summoned before the sultan and ordered to choose between death by torture or conversion to Islam. Sabbatai renounced Judaism for the faith of Mohammed and lived well for a time, but his wanton sexual activity and erratic behavior eventually drew fire from Muslim authorities, who exiled him to the remote Albanian seaport of Dulcigno where he died in loneliness and obscurity.

Juhayman al-Otaibi, the Mahdi (Islamic Messiah) who seized the Grand Mosque in 1979
Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936 – 1980) was a Wahhabi militant who questioned Islamic leaders. He stated the necessity for the Muslims to overthrow their present corrupt rulers who are forced upon them and lack Islamic attributes "since the Quran recognizes no king or dynasty". He declared himself to be the Mahdi, the redeemer of Islam.
On November 20, 1979 the Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by a well-organized group of 1,300 to 1,500 men under al-Otaibi's leadership. The siege lasted two weeks before Saudi Arabian special forces attempted to break into the Mosque. They employed many methods to break down the doors of the Mosque, including tanks, but failed in the end due to the doors' strength. It was General Zia-ul-Haq at that time who directed the Pakistan Army and who finally captured the mosque with the help of French paramilitary forces.
Upon entering the mosque, it was full of dead bodies and waste. The fleeing rebels tried to escape through water tunnels around the mosque, which were then flushed with water to bring the rebels out. 67 people were captured alive and later beheaded.

Henry Prince, the Anglican that was one in the flesh with Christ
Henry James Prince (1811–1899) was the founder of a British cult known as the Agapemonites. Ordained an Anglican minister in 1840 and after just three years, he became convinced of his own divinity, and in 1849 he established the "Abode of Love", on a 200-acre commune near Spaxton in Somerset.
"Look on me, I am one in the flesh with Christ. By me, and in me, God has redeemed all flesh from death, and brought the bodies of breathing men into the resurrection state." he told his followers, about 50 mostly middle-aged, middle-income folk, were charter members of the Abode of Love.
In 1856, Prince the Messiah (who was already married to a woman old enough to be his mother) took a virgin bride, claiming it was his religious destiny. It was supposedly a "purely spiritual union", but his followers were shocked when the young woman became pregnant.
The baby was denounced as the devil's offspring and grew up in the Abode as an outcast and an example of Satan's work. This led to rumors of orgies at Spaxton that caused sensation in the press, and outside contributions quickly dried up. Despite his claims of immortality, Prince died in 1899.

John Nichols Thom, the Cornish king of Jerusalem and Malta
John Nichols Thom (1799-1838) was a Cornish self-declared Messiah in the 19th century Cornwall. Thom came to public view in December 1832 when he tried to be nominated for parliament for Canterbury. He used a name Count Rothschild, lived in Rose Hotel and campaigned in a crimson velvet suit with gold lacings and carried a sword. When Thom received 374 votes, 1/5 of the vote, he began to call himself Sir William Percy Honeywood Courtenay of Powderham, the heir to the earl of Devon, the King of Jerusalem and Knight of Malta.
Thom was locked into the Barming Heath asylum in Kent. His father petitioned for his release. When Thom was eventually released 1838, he again assumed the mantle of Sir William Courtenay, declared himself "savior of the world" and became a wandering preacher. He again used his colorful costume, including an embroidered Maltese Cross and his sword that he claimed was Excalibur.
Thom gathered a following of more than hundred people and convinced them that their faith would make them invulnerable to steel and bullets. He also claimed that he could slay 10.000 men by hitting his left hand with his right and if he would be shot, he would come back to life three days later.
When Thom and his followers paraded in and around the countryside near Boughton, so authorities sent three constables to arrest him. Thom shot constable John Mears, mutilated the body with his blade and threw it into a ditch. The same day, authorities sent 100 soldiers of the 45th Foot regiment to village of Dunkirk to arrest Thom and his followers. Thom would have none of it and shot lieutenant Bennet who was leading his troops. Soldiers opened fire and killed Thom and nine of his followers.

Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi that lasted 6 months
Muhammad Ahmad ibn (1844-1885) was a Muslim religious leader, a faqir, in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In 1881, Muhammad Ahmad proclaimed himself Al Mahdi al Muntazar, or "expected one", and started to raise an army. Mohammed Ahmed used a V-shaped gap in his teeth to prove he was the Mahdi.
With Sudan in his hands, the Mahdi formed a government. The Mahdiyah (Mahdist regime) imposed traditional Islamic laws. The Mahdi added to Islamic law the declaration that "Muhammad Ahmad is the Mahdi of God and the representative of His Prophet".
He died six months after his liberation of Khartoum, and the state he founded fell victim to colonial maneuverings that doomed it to reconquest in 1899.

Wackiest self-proclaimed Messiahs

Greatest Impostors in History

Victor Lustig, the man who sold the Eiffel Tower
Victor Lustig (1890-1947) is held to have been one of the most talented confidence tricksters who ever lived. Lustig's first con involved selling a $30,000 money-printing machine that didn't worked well.
In 1925, Lustig's master con began when he was reading a newspaper: an article discussed the problems the city was having maintaining the Eiffel Tower. So he adopted the persona of a government official, and sent six scrap metal dealers an invitation to discuss a possible business deal.
Lustig told the group that the upkeep on the Eiffel Tower was so outrageous that the city could not maintain it any longer, and wanted to sell it for scrap. So he sold the Eiffel Tower to one of the scrap metal dealers and took a train to Vienna with the suitcase full of cash. The buyer was too humiliated to complain to the police.
Later, Lustig convinced Al Capone to invest $40,000 in a stock deal. Lustig kept Capone's money in a safe deposit box for two months, then returned it to him, claiming that the deal had fallen through. Impressed with Lustig's integrity, Capone gave him $5,000. It was, of course, all that Lustig was after.
On 1907, Lustig arrived to the United States and conducted a number of scams, but eventually his luck ran out: he was arrested for counterfeiting and sent to Alcatraz prison.

Frank Abagnale, catch me if you can
Frank William Abagnale, Jr. (born April 27, 1948) was an impostor for five years in the 1960s. His first con was writing checks on his own overdrawn account. Then he printed out his own, almost perfect copies of checks. He also collected over US$40,000 by printing his account number on blank bank deposit slips and added them to the stack of real blank slips in the bank.
For a period of two years, Abagnale masqueraded as Pan Am pilot "Frank Williams", to get free rides around the world by dead heading on scheduled airline flights. Later, he impersonated a pediatrician for 11 months in a Georgia hospital under the name "Frank Williams". He also forged a Harvard University Law diploma, passed the bar exam of Louisiana and got a job at the office of the State Attorney General of Louisiana.
Over 5 years he worked under 8 identities, though he used many more to cash checks, and passed bad checks worth over $2,5 million in 26 countries. The money was used for a lifestyle in which he dated flight attendants, ate at expensive restaurants, bought expensive clothing, and prepared for his next con.
The movie "Catch Me If You Can" is loosely based on his exploits. He currently runs Abagnale and Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.

Christopher Rocancourt, the french Rockefeller
Christophe Thierry Rocancourt (1967-) is an impostor and con artist who scammed affluent people by masquerading as a French member of the Rockefeller family.
His mother worked as a prostitute and his father was an alcoholic who took Christophe to an orphanage when the boy was 5. He ran away and made his way to Paris where he pulled his first big con: faking the deed to a property he didn't own, then "selling" the property for $1,4 million.
Making his way to the United States, Rocancourt used at least a dozen aliases. In Los Angeles, he pretended to be a movie producer, boxing champion or venture capitalist. He dropped names like "his mother" Sophia Loren or "his uncles" Oscar de la Renta and Dino de Laurentiis and was associated with various celebrities. He married Playboy model Pía Reyes; they had a son, Zeus. He lived for a time with Mickey Rourke.
In Canada, Rocancourt wrote an autobiography in which he ridiculed his victims. In March 2002 he was extradited to New York. He pled guilty to 3 of 11 different charges including theft, grand larceny, smuggling, bribery and perjury. He estimated that he "made" at least $40 million.

Ferdinand Demara, the Great Impostor
Ferdinand Waldo Demara (1921-1982), known as "the Great Impostor", masqueraded as many people from monks to surgeons to prison wardens.
He joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and began his new lives by borrowing the name of his army buddy Anthony Ignolia and went AWOL. He then faked his suicide and borrowed another name, Robert Linton French, and became a religiously-oriented psychologist. Both Navy and Army caught him eventually and he served 18 months in prison.
A string of pseudo-academic careers followed. He was, among other things, a civil engineer, a sheriff's deputy, an assistant prison warden, a doctor of applied psychology, a hospital orderly, a lawyer, a child-care expert, a Benedictine monk, a Trappist monk, an editor, a cancer researcher, and a teacher. One teaching job led to a six months in prison. He never seemed to get much monetary gain in what he was doing - just temporary respectability.
His most famous exploit was to masquerade as surgeon Joseph Cyr about HMCS Cayuga, a Canadian Navy destroyer, during the Korean War. He managed to improvise successful surgeries and fend off infection with generous amounts of penicillin. This worked until the mother of the real Dr. Joseph Cyr found out and reported it.
Demara returned to the U.S., inspired the 1960 film "The Great Imposter", and died on 1982 as a Baptist minister.

David Hampton, less than Six Degrees of Separation from Sidney Poitier
David Hampton (1964-2003) was an African-American con artist. Unable to gain entry at Studio 54, Hampton assumed the identity of Sidney Poitier's son and was suddenly ushered in as celebrity.
Hampton began employing the persona of "David Poitier" to cadge free meals in restaurants. He then persuaded at least a dozen people into letting him stay with them in their homes or to give him money, including Melanie Griffith, Gary Sinise, and Calvin Klein. He told some of them that he was a friend of their children, some that he had just missed his plane to Los Angeles and that all his luggage was on it, some that his belongings had been stolen.
On 1983, Hampton was arrested and convicted for his frauds and was ordered to pay restitution of $4,490 to his various victims. His story became the inspiration for a play and later a movie, titled "Six Degrees of Separation". David Hampton died of AIDS-related complications in 2003.

Milli Vanilli, the pop duo who couldn't sing
Milli Vanilli was a pop vocal duo composed of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus that formed in Germany in the mid-1980s.
Milli Vanilli started to grow worldwide as of 1988 and won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist on 1990. But in the same year, during a 'live' performance recorded by MTV at the Lake Compounce theme park in Connecticut, the recording of the song "Girl You Know It's True" jammed and began to skip, resulting in one of the most embarrassing moments in popular music history.
So the truth was revealed: the Milli Vanilli sound was actually created by Frank Farian featuring the vocal talents of other singers, and Morvan and Pilatus did not sing at all on the records.
After this, the Grammy Award they received was stripped from them, and at least 26 different lawsuits were filed under various U.S. consumer fraud protection laws against Pilatus, Morvan and Arista Records.

Cassie Chadwick, the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie
Cassie Chadwick (1857-1907) is the most famous name of a Canadian woman born as Elizabeth Bigley. At the age of 22 she was arrested in Woodstock, Ontario for forgery but released on grounds of insanity. In 1882 she married Wallace Springsteen in Cleveland, Ohio; her husband threw her out eleven days later when he found out about her past. In Cleveland, she married a Dr. Chadwick.
In 1897, Cassie began her largest, most successful con game: that of establishing herself as Andrew Carnegie's daughter. She faked a promissory note of $2 million with Carnegie's signature. The information leaked to the financial markets in northern Ohio, and banks begun to offer their services. For the next eight years she used this fake background to obtain loans that eventually totaled between $10 and 20 million.
When Carnegie was later asked about her, he denied ever knowing her: the scheme collapsed, she was arrested and the trial was a media circus. She died in jail.

Mary Baker, the Princess Caraboo from the island of Javasu
On 1817, a cobbler in England, met an apparently disoriented young woman with exotic clothes who was speaking a language no one could understand. Locals brought many foreigners who tried to find out what strange language the lady was talking, until a Portuguese sailor "translated" her story: she was Princess Caraboo from the island of Javasu in the Indian Ocean. She had been captured by pirates, then jumped overboard in the Bristol Channel and swam ashore.
For the next ten weeks, this representative of exotic royalty was a favourite of the local dignataries. She used a bow and arrow, fenced, swam naked and prayed to God, whom she termed Allah Tallah. She acquired exotic clothing and a portrait made of her was reproduced in local newspapers.
Eventually the truth came out: she was actually a cobbler's daughter, Mary Baker, from Devon. She had been a servant girl in various places all over England but had not found a place to stay. She had invented a fictitious language out of imaginary and gypsy words and created an exotic character.
She continued her role in the USA, France and Spain without the same luck. Her story was the basis of the 1994 movie "Princess Caraboo", written by John Wells.

Wilhelm Voigt, the amusing Captain of Köpenick
Wilhelm Voigt (1849-1922) was a German impostor who masqueraded as a Prussian military officer in 1906 and became famous as the Captain of Köpenick.
On 1906 he had purchased parts of used captain's uniforms and, once in Köpenick, he went to the local army barracks, stopped four grenadiers and a sergeant on their way back to barracks and told them to come with him. Indoctrinated to obey officers without question, they followed.
He had the town secretary Rosenkranz and Mayor Georg Langerhans arrested for suspicions of crooked bookkeeping and confiscated 4000 marks and 70 pfennigs - with a receipt, of course. Then he commandeered two carriages and told the grenadiers to take the Mayor and the treasurer Wiltberg to Berlin to General Moltke for interrogation. He told the remaining guards to stand in their places for half an hour and then left for the train station. In the train he changed to civilian clothes and slipped out.
Voigt was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for forgery, impersonating an officer and wrongful imprisonment. However, much of the public opinion was on his side. German Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him on 1908. There are some claims that even the Kaiser had been amused by the incident.

George Psalmanazar, the first Formosan to visit Europe
George Psalmanazar (1679-1763) claimed to be the first Formosan to visit Europe. He appeared in Northern Europe, around the year 1700. He looked European but claimed he came from the faraway island of Formosa, followed a foreign calendar and worshipped the Sun and the Moon.
Psalmanazar published a book An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan which revealed a number of strange habits. Formosa was a prosperous country of wealth with capital city called Xternetsa. Men walked naked except for a gold or silver plate to cover their privates. Their main food was a serpent that they hunt with branches. Formosans were polygamous and the husband had a right to eat their wives for infidelity. They executed murderers by hanging them upside down and shooting them full of arrows. Annually they sacrificed the hearts of 18,000 young boys to gods and priests ate the bodies. They also used horses and camels for mass transportation. The book also described the Formosan alphabet.
The book was rather successful. He lectured on Formosan culture and language and pretended to translate religious literature into Formosan. The Bishop of London supported him. He spoke before the Royal Society. Eventually, he grew tired of the deception: in 1706 he confessed, first to friends and then in public.
Greatest Impostors in History